SMTD associate professor has long list of interests


Christi-Anne Castro has been a Red Sox fan for as long as she can remember.

A Boston native, it came with the territory as her oldest brother had her memorize the Red Sox position players through baseball cards.

By happenstance, her parents attended the 1975 World Series game during which Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run while frantically waving the ball fair as he skipped toward first base.

But when a friend approached her about taking part in a fantasy baseball league about 10 years ago, Castro was not an eager participant.

Christi-Anne Castro, associate professor of music and associate dean for faculty development in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, holds Banjo, a poodle she and her family recently adopted. (Photo courtesy of Christi-Anne Castro)
Christi-Anne Castro, associate professor of music and associate dean for faculty development in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, holds Banjo, a poodle she and her family recently adopted. (Photo courtesy of Christi-Anne Castro)

“I just thought it didn’t sound good at all,” said Castro, associate professor of music and associate dean for faculty development in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. “I don’t play video games, I’m not a day trader, it just didn’t seem like a thing I’d enjoy.”

She gave it a try, and not only did she enjoy it, she started another league welcoming to women and has served as its commissioner for several years.

“When I started playing it, there’s something about the consistency of statistics that is not as unstable as you’d get in football,” she said. “I’ve never liked fantasy football, I’m not interested in basketball, but baseball has this really interesting day trader thing where you’re playing the statistics and numbers, and that kind of had an appeal to me.”

An associate professor since 2005, Castro recently began a three-year appointment as associate dean for faculty development. She joked that her duties as commissioner of the league have similar administrative undertones, so her title is “associate dean for fantasy baseball.”

Her road toward music was not nearly as direct as the one toward baseball fandom. She called baseball a “culture” in her family, but outside of her parents simply enjoying music and singing around the house, neither was proficient at any instrument.

When she was 5, her mother started her on piano lessons, following a similar path to her three older brothers. In third grade, she picked up the violin, and played saxophone while a high schooler.

“I just had a certain natural predisposition to want to play music, and in particular I really enjoyed playing music with other people,” she said. “I like the social aspect of when you play together there’s this coordination and emotional magic that happens.”

Her mother was among a small group of parents instrumental in forming a Filipino cultural school called Iskwelahang Pilipino — now the longest continuously running Filipino school in the United States — and it was also her mother who started the IP rondalla out of a love for Filipino traditional music. Through this ensemble, she discovered the bandurria, a plucked string instrument that she fell in love with.

“Even though the instrument I’ve played my entire life is the piano, I don’t practice piano all the time,” she said. “The instrument that has stayed with me and that I play consistently is the bandurria.”

Perhaps the only other thing rivaling her love for music and baseball is her passion for travel. Castro said she has been to Europe, Asia and South America and has her sights set on eventually visiting Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Her first international trip was with her mother, a teacher for the deaf-blind who was in charge of a program for international scholars. That allowed her to travel to Spain and Sweden, among other places, at a relatively young age.

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“I have been to many places in the world because of this love for travel, plus work brings me to different places, so it’s kind of a convenient confluence of professional and personal life,” she said. “But I started traveling when I was young because my parents would do a lot of road trips with the four kids.

“What do you do in the summer to keep four kids from driving you up the wall? Pack them all in a car,” she joked.

While traveling, she tries to add to her growing list of birds she’s encountered as an amateur birdwatcher and also sampling as much of the native cuisine as she can. On her last international trip before the pandemic, she visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and had an interesting culinary experience.

“I usually do a lot of research on food,” she said. “This time I signed up for a taco tour, and it sounds so corny and it’s very touristy, but they were incredible tacos. The local guide takes you to places on the street you likely wouldn’t visit.”

When not enjoying music, baseball and travel, she dotes on her poodles, which includes newcomer Banjo. The name coincides with the instrument she had started to learn a few years ago but took up again at the beginning of the pandemic.

“The syllables are cute and he’s cute, so we named him Banjo,” she said. “Even though I love other dogs, I’m consistently a mom to poodles.”


What memorable moment in the workplace stands out? 

The first time I walked into my office near the top of the iconic bell tower on Central Campus; the nerves I felt the first time I stood in front of the large musicology core course I ended up teaching for 15 years; and the feeling of being on “the other side” at the first dissertation defense in which I was a committee member.

What can’t you live without?

I cannot live without music, both professionally and personally.

Name your favorite spot on campus. 

My favorite spot actually was my former office in the tower. I didn’t mind the ringing of the bells and the cranking of the machinery directly overhead and loved telling people who asked where my office was located.

What inspires you?

Experiencing music inspires me to make music. Performing music makes me feel generally inspired as a kind of emotion through the social aspects of coordinating something expressive with others. Going to concerts, festivals and other places with live music inspires me to think about the nature of music-making and being human. Traveling inspires me to travel more. Good conversations with good people motivate me to be a better person.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading a dissertation and an MA thesis. The truth is that I mostly read for work, whether it is student-generated, helpful for research, or related to administrative work I am doing. For relaxation I do like to read about how the Massachusetts sports teams are doing, particularly the Red Sox and the Patriots.

Who had the greatest influence on your career path?

I have to give credit to my parents. When I was growing up, and even when I went through my undergraduate years, I didn’t know there was a field called musicology, let alone ethnomusicology. But my parents were the ones who introduced my siblings and me to piano lessons, and my lifelong love of playing music and different instruments sprouted from then on without any more prodding from them.


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